Edinburgh escape room to offer Scotland’s first mazeophobia therapy

Escape Reality in Edinburgh is set to run Scotland’s first behavioural therapy sessions to help people suffering from mazeophobia (a fear of getting lost) following new research which has highlighted just how prominent the phobia really is.

The attraction, which is Edinburgh’s newest immersive escape room experience, will be running a series of seminars from Monday, 30 July to help people become desensitised to unfamiliar surroundings.  

Although mazeophobia isn’t recognised in any medical dictionaries or textbooks yet, treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and systematic desensitisation, do exist.

“Mazeophhobia is a common fear, which appears to be more prevalent than first expected,” says Alice Hall, operations manager at Escape Reality.

“People get anxious and scared in new and unfamiliar surroundings outwith their usual settings. Systematic desensitisation works by exposing phobia sufferers to the fearful situation one step at a time.

“That’s what we’re planning at Escape Reality. These events are looking to help people who have mazeophobia – and want to overcome this – by trying out these rooms (these new surroundings) one step at a time.”

Escape Reality’s new workshops are to be rolled out at other branches across the UK pending their success in Edinburgh.


10 nature-inspired ways to keep the kids entertained in your own garden

Now that we’re more than half-way through the school holidays, you may have exhausted all your ideas (and budget) trying to keep the kids (and their friends) entertained throughout the summer. If so, don’t worry – help is at hand! We are all too familiar with this scenario and have compiled a list of our top tips for keeping the kids entertained while you (try to) soak up some of the last of the summer sun – or at least have a cup of tea…

  • Organise a bug hunt

You’ll be surprised at what you can find in the back garden just by lifting a few plant pots or turning over some stones or rocks. It’s a mini beast haven out there – even if you hardly have any plants to speak of. Expect to spot different bee varieties, ladybirds, caterpillars and butterflies, spiders, flies, hornets, green flies and ants, daddy longlegs (or crane fly), and definitely a few ants. Of course, the variety depends on what you have in your garden, but kids can have great fun spotting them, logging them, looking at them, identifying the species and even drawing them. Don’t forget to arm them with a notepad and pen and a little ‘bug jar’ so they can look at them up close before letting them go again.


  • Give them a bowl of water

Obviously, any garden activity requires supervision but kids (especially the young ones) can have a ball with a big bowl or basin of water. Pop in a few toys for your toddler to ‘fish out’, give them some plastic dishes to wash, or add some soap suds and hey presto, you have a mini car wash. If you don’t mind the outcome too much, you might let them loose on your own car or even the windows. Give them a scourer or old rag and let them clean the swing, the sand pit lid, the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe or whatever takes their fancy. It’s also a great way of getting them into ‘helping out’ around the house and garden.

  • Have a picnic

Throw down a blanket in the shade and give them some juice and a few healthy snacks, such as strawberries, cheese chunks, carrot and cucumber sticks with a houmous dip, homemade muffins or whatever else takes your fancy. Mix it up by making it a teddy bear’s picnic with their favourite soft toys or inviting a few little friends round.


  • Paint rocks

Join the craze that’s been sweeping the globe and get the kids painting their own rocks for others to find. You could ‘plant’ them in and around your own garden for other members of the family to discover or take a walk and pop some at the beach, woods or local park. Who knows? You might even find a few while you’re there. This is a great first foray into art therapy and keeps all the mess outside.


  • Make a tent

Dig out all your old sheets, blankets and curtains and make a tent. It doesn’t need to be particularly big or anything fancy as half the fun is in the making. See what you can find lying around for poles or rope in the deck chairs and secure the sheeting with clothes pegs. Once it’s built, you probably won’t see the kids for the rest of the afternoon. Don’t forget to give them a blanket and few cushions (and snacks) to help make it cosy. Alternatively, if you have enough natural materials around, you might like to challenge the older kids to build a den.


  • Get foraging

Did you know there are at least 15 edible plants you can forage in your own garden? These include daisies, dandelions, clover, nettles, elderflowers, violets and honesty. Give the kids an introduction to foraging (and perhaps even medical herbalism if you have the skills) and have fun at the same time. All they need is a little basket and an eye for what’s edible (with your help, of course). Just be sure to do your research first if you’re new to foraging. We can guarantee you’ll have fun finding out what to do with the plant power growing in your garden.

  • Start bird spotting

Get the kids to make a chart to help them start identifying the different species of bird that visit the garden daily. All they need is a picture of the bird and space to add tally marks every time they see one of the same. If you have a feeding station, you might like to pop out some high protein foods, such as black sunflower seeds or raisins, to encourage the birds to stop at a good vantage point. This is a great introduction to ornithology and you might even like to take their research further to find out what their habits are and how you can help to sustain them at different times of year. Feeding garden birds all year round can really help to ensure their survival. At this time of year, you can expect to see pigeons and seagulls – and even the odd garden warbler – at least!


  • Set up a wildlife garden

By leaving a small patch of grass uncut the next time you get the lawnmower out you’ll already be creating a little wildlife haven – especially for the bees. Often the uncut clover in one garden can support a whole hive of bees so it’s worth considering the next time you cut the grass. Although this isn’t really something for the kids to get involved in, they might want to expand the wildlife appeal by putting out some water or wet cat food which can really help hedgehogs and other wildlife to hydrate and refuel when summers are particularly hot. Nearby, you might want to pop up a bat box or a bug hotel, which you can even make yourselves and nail to the garden fence. You might even want to plant some flowers which attract certain wildlife or check out some of the other ways to help and stop further declining numbers.

  • Get a friendly game going

Whether it’s football, badminton or rounders, summer is a great excuse to get kids off the sofa and more active – even if they’re not naturally sporty. This is a great thing to get going for the older kids, who might want to get a community-type game going either in the garden, local park or patch of grass which is central to where they live. Appeal to their competitive nature and pit the adults against the kids. It’ll do you the world of good too and transport you straight back to your youth!

  • Invest in some new garden toys

Once you’ve tried all of the above, why not invest in some new garden toys? You’ll get some mileage out of them before the winter creeps in and they’ll be there waiting for you (albeit in the shed) for next year. You might even grab a bargain in the summer sales. Our favourite buys include IKEA’s Circus Tent; the Chad Valley Sand & Water Pit – available from Argos; the inflatable Roller Wheel; and the Thumbs Up Retro Games Handheld Console ,which includes more than 150 classic games, for older kids (and adults too). unnamed (61)It might be a games console but it still encourages ‘unplugging’ from the internet and is a great way to have your older children join you in the garden. They’ll have fun checking out all these retro games that we parents remember so well as they lounge on the garden furniture, in the make-shift den or under the gazebo.


Appeal for more young male and ethnic minority group stem cell donors

Young men and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are being urged to register and make sure all patients in need of a stem cell transplant can find a potentially lifesaving match

New figures released this week by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan reveal that more than 20,000 Scots registered to become stem cell donors in 2017, bringing the total number of people from the country to 104,974.

But the annual review of the combined UK Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry,  which is made up of donors recruited by NHS Blood and Transplant, the Welsh Blood Service, DKMS and Anthony Nolan, shows that while the UK stem cell register now stands at 1.4 million, young men are significantly under represented on the register. Therefore, the UK donor registers are urging young men, and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to register and make sure all patients in need of a stem cell transplant can find a potentially lifesaving match.

If a patient has a condition that affects their bone marrow or blood, then a stem cell transplant may be their best chance of survival. Doctors will give new, healthy stem cells to the patient via their bloodstream, where they begin to grow and create healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

According to Anthony Nolan, more than 2,200 searches for a lifesaving transplant were made in 2017 with 82% of people who donated stem cells or bone marrow men, and 57 per cent men aged under 30. Men under 30 make up just 12% of the UK stem cell register.

Marginally fewer donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds joined the UK stem cell register in 2017 (23,947 vs 24,383 in 2016). Donors from minority ethnic backgrounds make up just 14% of the UK stem cell register (the remainder are 85% northern European, 1% unknown/prefer not to say). The result is that patients from black, Asian or other minority backgrounds have a 20% chance of finding the best possible stem cell donor match, compared to 69% for northern European backgrounds.

Anthony Nolan chief executive Henny Braund said: “Despite a pleasing increase in the number of young men joining the stem cell donor register, the fact remains that 12% of the register provides 57% of all stem cell donations. We have had great success working with schools, colleges and universities across the UK through our Marrow and The Hero Project programmes – and will continue to focus our efforts in this area to meet our ambitious target of recruiting 100,000 potential donors a year by 2020, of whom 20,000 are from minority ethnic backgrounds.

“Anthony Nolan is delighted to work in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant, the Welsh Blood Service and DKMS and will continue to work collaboratively to meet our shared vision of finding a match for every patient in need of a stem cell transplant.”

Guy Parkes, head of Stem Cell Donation & Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The cord blood bank continues to help us serve the black and Asian communities, who struggle to find a matching donor from the adult registry.

“We are pleased that our efforts to target and grow the number of black and Asian donors has been delivering results, and we look forward to continuing this life saving work with our partner registries.”

Stephan Schumacher, CEO of DKMS, said: “We are pleased to see the registry grow again in 2017, and proud of DKMS’ significant contribution to this success.

“Our goal as a charity has always been to provide a second chance at life to as many patients as possible. This is why we register people up to the age of 55, and focus on increasing the pool of donors so that patients – especially those with rare tissue types – have the best possible chance of finding their potential lifesaver.”


Amaranthine becomes Scotland’s first certified palm oil-free skincare company


A natural skincare company based in Edinburgh has become the first in Scotland to be certified palm oil-free.

Amaranthine, which is run by Sarah Rueger, is also the first skincare company in the world to receive a palm oil-free certification trademark. IMG_4343

Each of its 100% natural skincare products, which include facial oil, cleansing balms, face masks and lip balms, are handmade in Scotland using carefully chosen aromatherapy oil blends.

The brand has also recently been shortlisted in the 2018 Free From Skincare Awards for its Sweet Orange and Neroli-scented Body Creme.

Read Sarah’s story here



How sleep deprivation is affecting our normal thoughts and behaviours

Talking to imaginary pets, crying in the supermarket because they sold out of yoghurt and getting in the shower fully clothed are among some of the strangest things people have done when sleep deprived, according to a new poll carried out by natural health company BetterYou.

The survey of 358 people from across the UK found that poor quality of sleep was a common problem, with more than half (53%) claiming they struggled to nod off.

It also revealed that more than 60% of people take longer than 30 minutes to fall to sleep.

Almost all (95%) respondents said they have felt sleep deprived at some point in their lives. Of these, nearly one in four said they feel sleep deprived every day.

According to the poll, between three and six o’clock in the afternoon is when people feel the most tired, with 7% of people confessing to falling asleep in the workplace.

Binge-eating, being forgetful and hallucinating were common behaviours experienced when sleep deprived, with 14% of people putting strange household items in the fridge, including keys and kettles.

The survey asked how people would spend an extra hour in the day and 43% said they would spend it asleep or relaxing. Reading and exercising were also popular responses.

According to Better You, poor sleep can have a significant impact on both mental and physical health and drowsiness, stress, poor short-term memory and weight gain are all common indicators of this.

Magnesium deficiency can be one of the main factors affecting the quality of sleep we are able to achieve.

BetterYou founder and managing director Andrew Thomas said: “The body needs magnesium to maintain a state of complete rest. Low levels of this essential mineral can lead to restless muscles that keep us awake at night.

“It’s a known fact that we don’t get enough magnesium from our daily diet. Seven in 10 of us suffer from low levels so supplementation has become a necessity for modern lifestyles.”

BetterYou has developed a new Magnesium Sleep Mineral Lotion, which is a fast-acting natural remedy, clinically proven to provide a better night’s sleep.